Jazz Improvisation Essay

For many people, the understanding of jazz is often limited to knowing the basic styles and performers. However, jazz styles – a thing rather secondary, because behind each of them lies something that gives us the opportunity to call jazz the most unlike him directions. If the style is just a form, then what is the filling of jazz music? The answers to this question we will try to find or at least indicate in the next chapters of the book. I want to emphasize once again the importance of knowing the basics of jazz theory and music in the process of comprehending jazz and the secondary nature of jazz history. For example, to talk about a particular style, we used a lot of terms and concepts. Many of them might seem familiar to you. Take at least the terms “swing” and “blues.” They can easily be attributed to the styles of music and to be calm. However, when it comes to a real understanding of each of these concepts, even the most erudite jazz lover admits that everything is not so simple. Jazz theory is something alive that is in this music. While the history of jazz is just a statement of dead facts.

Jazz music influences the listener’s consciousness on several levels simultaneously. The swinging rhythm makes you tread your foot. Improvisations of such masters as Coleman Hawkins or Lester Young capture emotions. And all this because jazz is a complicated music. It is no accident that he took such an honorable place in the cultural life of America, along with classical music and great painting. Many great musicians have contributed to the development and development of jazz. Therefore, it is so important to realize that for a true understanding of jazz music you need to make some effort and only then can you really appreciate it.

Music is based on three fundamentals: rhythm, harmony, and melody. In addition, there are many more important details, but without understanding the basics it is quite difficult to understand something. Let us try to approach each of the pillars of the music system.

The musical rhythm is the most naturalistic of all the foundations of music. It was with simple rhythms tapping on primitive musical instruments that the history of music began sometime. In addition, it is the rhythm, according to many, is fundamental in jazz. Rhythm can be called a system of sounds built in time-space and perceived regardless of their height, timbre, and volume.

According to the most common version, the jazz rhythm comes from African culture. Music, which was created with the help of primitive traditional instruments that did not allow creating complex melodies, was mainly intended for dancing. And she was surprisingly good at her task. After the African rhythm school, having received its incarnation in jazz, expanded the instruments, polyrhythmic grew into a unique jazz rhythm. Those lines that used to play numerous percussion instruments now took on wind, stringed, keyboard – the whole arsenal of music.

The basis of the rhythm of a jazz piece takes on a ground beat. It is the most rigorous rhythmic system and should work like a clock. The ground beat is not synonymous with what makes a metronome. At the same time, he is a substitute for the metronome – the truth is pretty much complicated. All the rhythmic complexity of jazz is already set on the ground beat (Palmer 2016). The main rhythmic complexity of jazz is swing. Swing is the ability of a musician to play outside the ground beat. There are two main types of swing: macro and micro-scooping.

Macroswing is when a musician for a short period of time deliberately starts to slow down or speed up the pace of the game. Most often, the soloist starts to slow down and as if he is pulling the music over. While the ground beat continues to beat like a clock, a rhythmic breach arises above it, creating a stress effect. Macroswing is an important expressive tool. Swing is the atomic engine of jazz music. Neither the power of the Big Band nor the roar of a saxophone or trumpet. Swing can be achieved by a double-bass duet and a piano. In addition, as soon as it is achieved, the atomic engine of jazz will begin to work and give electricity to every cell of a grateful listener or dancer. Recording “Easy Does It” duet called Corner Pocket is a vivid example. In it, with the help of swing musicians create an interesting work, which for almost four minutes does not allow the listener to relax.

A person who is far from music will most easily understand what harmony is. A system of chords and is a harmonic chain of a musical work. In jazz, harmonic chains tend to get stuck. One cycle often coincides with a jazz square. A jazz square is a large unit of music, in which the entire musical theme fits. Those. the square of the famous jazz standard “Summertime” coincides with one songlet of the song. While the rhythm section plays chords, the soloist plays the melodic line of the piece. The melody is almost always indirectly connected with harmony and lives within the framework of this or that chord (Palmer 2013). The most obvious element of music is a melody. It is the melody that the listeners remember and then sing in the shower. In jazz, the melody has undergone a complex evolution. Born from naturalistic recitative lamentations, sung in singing, she developed into the most complicated melodic lines, which even academic music can not boast of.

Jazz melody is inconceivable without improvisation. Any soloist should not only be able to play a theme but also perform improvisation to it, which is essentially a melodic impromptu, which is in the framework of harmony, a theme or rhythm played. It is worth mentioning that improvisation can be not only within the melody but also within the framework of any of the elements of jazz (Homzy 1971). The level and talent of a jazz musician are often determined by his ability to think spontaneously and never play strictly by rhythm, harmony or melody. Jazz is impossible without improvisation.

If we talk about the origins of jazz, we can not say a word about the blues. At the same time, all attempts to reveal the theme of blues at least at some decent level are unlikely to succeed. Blues is the greatest phenomenon of African American culture. And this phenomenon, like the once-vanished Hellas, has already ceased to exist, leaving behind an inheritance that, even if it accepts certain features of the blues, and sometimes takes its name, but in no way is it. For this reason, most musicologists distinguish in addition to the archaic blues, electric blues, blues-rock, boogie-woogie and others.

The roots of the blues are in the delta of the Mississippi River, where there was a large concentration of slaves from West Africa. Pretty soon it spreads across America and exists hand in hand with country music. Blues become the music of the people, but in no case is music for the people. The songs of the bluesmen are monotonous, understandable, but unrepeatable. They always sang only about problems: the wife changed, the horse died, the white man oppresses. The text of blues was invented practically on the move. This was facilitated by a form that did not need rhyme. The singer at first gave out one simple phrase-thesis. In the next line, he repeated this phrase. After that, he sang the third phrase, which was the development of the first. As a result, the blues structure gets the following form: AAB. In this case, this structure extends both to the lyrical side of the music, and to the melodic side (Solstad 2015). Traditional blues is built on 3 chords, which in total become a 12-bar blues square. People who are engaged in music, probably know this square and hear it. People who are treated to music as listeners will be interested and useful to hear and learn to determine the blues square. To begin with, we will have to give each chord some definition, image or symbol (Taylor 2000). The first chord of blues – tonic (T). We will present the tonic chords with apples, and when we hear in the song the tonic will associate it with apples. The second chord is the subdominant (S). It will be presented in the form of oranges. The third chord is the dominant (D).

The blues were constantly used in jazz music. However, the first to look at the blues in a new way were the boppers. Charlie Parker deeply explored the blues base of jazz. And besides innovations in the blues square, he looked at another one of the inherent features of the blues – the bluesy mode. Blues fret is a much more complicated thing if you do not talk about musicians to it. I hope many people know the most common scale in C major. There are seven notes in it and if you look at the keyboard of the piano, all these notes will fall on the white keys.


  1. Palmer, Christopher Michael. 2013. “An Analysis Of Instrumental Jazz Improvisation Development”. Deepblue.Lib.Umich.Edu. https://deepblue.lib.umich.edu/bitstream/handle/2027.42/102395/cmpalm_1.pdf?sequence=1.
  2. Palmer, Michael. 2016. “Instrumental Jazz Improvisation Development: Characteristics Of Novice, Intermediate, And Advanced Improvisers”. Journals.Sagepub.Com. http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0022429416664897?journalCode=jrma.
  3. Homzy, Andrew. 1971. “JAZZ -STYLE AND THEORY”. Digitool.Library.Mcgill.Ca. http://digitool.library.mcgill.ca/webclient/StreamGate?folder_id=0&dvs=1533038115546~886.
  4. Taylor, Bob. 2000. “The Art Of Improvisation”. Pws.Npru.Ac.Th. http://pws.npru.ac.th/silapachai/data/files/The%20Art%20of%20Improvisation-Bob%20Taylor.pdf.
  5. Solstad, Stein Helge. 2015. “Strategies In Jazz Guitar Improvisation”. Brage.Bibsys.No. https://brage.bibsys.no/xmlui/bitstream/handle/11250/2358576/Solstad_Avhandling.pdf?sequence=1.

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[Accessed: October 27, 2021]

"The terms offer and acceptance." freeessays.club, 17 May 2016

[Accessed: October 27, 2021]

"The terms offer and acceptance." freeessays.club, 17 May 2016

[Accessed: October 27, 2021]

"The terms offer and acceptance." freeessays.club, 17 May 2016

[Accessed: October 27, 2021]

"The terms offer and acceptance." freeessays.club, 17 May 2016

[Accessed: October 27, 2021]
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